Are Your Spiritual Leaders Barking Watchmen?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Isaiah 62-66

* I will begin today’s devotional with a summary and practical application of Isaiah 62-66 and follow it with my daily commentary.

There is a cyclical pattern of spiritual revival and rebellion that is evident in the history of man and the nations of the world.   It is my prayer you have seen that pattern in the Book of Isaiah and will see the same in the Book of Jeremiah that will follow in our Bible reading schedule.

The United States has been, in my opinion, in the midst of a growing surge of spiritual rebellion and increasing lawlessness for more than a half-century.  As a pastor, I am left wondering if our nation will emerge from her spiritual and moral declension.  There are many parallels I could draw between Israel’s decline and our own nation; however, for the sake of brevity I will focus on only one…the failure of spiritual leaders.  We read in Isaiah 56:

Isaiah 56:10-11 – His [the LORD’s] watchmen are blind [lack discernment]: they are all ignorant [without knowledge or understanding], they are all dumb [mute] dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. 11  Yea, they are greedy [never content] dogs which can never have enough [never satisfied], and they are shepherds [pastors] that cannot understand [lack discernment]: they all look [turned] to their own way [path or road of their choosing], every one for his gain, from his quarter.

The prophet observed the failure of Israel’s spiritual leaders preceded Jerusalem’s destruction and Israel’s captivity.  The spiritual shepherds of the nation had failed the people as “watchmen”.  They had failed to “bark” against the wickedness of the people.  They had failed to declare the judgment of God should the people not repent of their sins.

Contrast the “watchmen” in Isaiah 56:10-11 with the “watchmen” of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom (62:6):

Isaiah 62:6 – “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence”.

My friend, a majority of preachers and evangelists have failed to be spiritual “watchmen” on the walls of our churches, schools, and institutions and have facilitated the spiritual decline of this generation.  I am coming to realize many Bible fundamental churches, institutions, Bible colleges and universities are “shepherd” by “watchmen” (pastors, academic leaders and boards) who either lack discernment (56:10a) or are silent and unwilling to “bark” (56:10b) to pacify a carnal, lawless, intolerant generation.

* The following is a devotional commentary summary for Isaiah 62-66.

Isaiah 62:1-5 is a prophetic picture of the day the LORD will return in all His heavenly glory and once again reign in Jerusalem, not only over Israel, His chosen people, but also establish His kingdom over all the earth.

With the passion of an evangelist, Isaiah preaches, “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth” (Isaiah 62:1). Of course, the righteousness of which Isaiah speaks is not that of men, but the imputed righteousness of the LORD Himself!

Everything Israel could long for is promised to her: Righteousness and salvation (62:1); Glory (62:2); Prosperity (62:3); and the righteous reign with the LORD as King (62:3).  Israel was “Forsaken” and “Desolate” because of her rebellion and lawlessness (62:4); however, when the LORD reigns in Jerusalem over Israel she will have a new name, “Hephzibah”, meaning “my delight is in her” and the land “Beulah”, meaning “married”.   Instead of the sorrow and shame of Israel’s rebellion and her divorce, the LORD lovingly restores His people to Himself as a groom receives his bride (62:5).

Isaiah 64:6-8 is a brief passage that has inspired many sinners to not only confess their sinfulness before a holy God (64:6-7), but also acknowledge God is sovereign over man like a potter shaping clay…the LORD’s will and authority is absolute (64:8).

Isaiah 65:1 is a prophecy that the Gentiles, “a nation that was not called by my name”, will turn to the LORD for salvation (fulfilled in the New Testament when the Gospel was preached to the Gentiles – Acts 28:28).  Isaiah 62:2-7 describes Israel’s rebellion and the LORD using the Babylonian captivity as His judgment, but also promises to one day restore the people to their land (65:8-16).

Finally, Isaiah 65:17-66:24 is a prophetic portrait of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.  Isaiah 65:17-18, although similar in description to the new heavens and new earth described in the Book of Revelation, is in my opinion not the same as that which will be created after the final rebellion (Revelation 21:1-6).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith